Running with the Bears Marathon, Half-marathon, and 10K
August 16, 2014
Entering its fourth year, The Running with the Bears Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K Race in Indian Valley, CA is set to raise nearly $100,000 for children and youth in foster care. In 2012 this race became a Boston Marathon qualifier and has since attracted runners from all over the world in their quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon cutoff by early September.
“What makes this event so unique,” says Race Director Josie Litchfield, “Is that it is managed entirely by the Charity it benefits, Mountain Circle Family Services. As runners complete the course, they get to meet the same foster families and teens that their entry fee supports. In a small race, you can see how running can make a direct impact on these kids lives, it’s powerful”
Since Running with the Bears sold out seven months ago, organizers have opened up a division for ‘Charity Runners,’ these are participants who agree to fundraise a minimum of $400 for the cause. The perks of this program include free registration for the runner, a goody bag filled with gourmet and specialty running apparel, and the knowledge that their running is making a difference for some of the 58,000 children in foster care in California. Recently, a short film was produced about the Charity Runner program which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U
Recently, Running with the Bears attracted national attention, becoming a featured race in both Marathon and Beyond, and Competitor Magazines. These magazines are two of the most read runner magazines in the country and normally feature much larger events. Running with the Bears is one of the smallest marathons in the country with only 300 competitors (and less than 100 in the marathon division).
“Most of the news coverage for races focuses on big city events,” said Ms. Litchfield, “So it’s a real honor to be recognized by national magazines. In a lot of ways though, Indian Valley sells itself. Who wouldn't want to run here?”
The event attracts people from all over with its unique take on the traditional marathon. Runners are not only treated to the beautiful surroundings of Indian Valley, but are greeted along the course by musicians playing various types of music. Motivational signs every mile are mixed in with signs that feature interesting facts about bears. Last year’s winner, Chuck Engle, was the first participant to actually run into a bear- which occurred at about mile 23. As promised by Race Directors, the black bear was indeed more afraid of him and promptly ran in the other direction. “We get a lot of phone calls from people genuinely concerned about the bears,” said the race organizers, “so we provide bear bells in all goody bags. The truth, though, is that only about 200 people live along the course. Race Day is the biggest event these bears have ever seen and they head for the hills!”
At the finish line, Runners are handed a cold beer and treated to a free massage. A giant polar bear ice plunge is available, as is shopping at their pop-up running store, or visiting the gold panning exhibit or hay bale maze. It’s understandable why the race organizers’ motto is, “We don’t race by the same rules.”
“Logistically, this is a pretty tough race to put on, continued Litchfield. “There's definitely a reason you don't find Boston Qualifiers in small rural towns, but I think that's what makes it so unique. We built the type of race that we'd want to run in ourselves; where our kids can also have a good time, where we can run alongside our dogs, and where there’s a great view at the finish line.”
The race is put on by Mountain Circle Family Services, Inc., and proceeds provide the means for 30 foster teens to participate in the PowderQuest Program; an outdoor leadership program for older foster youth. This event also provides resources to other programs such as foster parent training, camp tuition, and new school clothes for foster children. Last year, Running with the Bears raised $45,000- this year, we hope to double that.
The event is set to take place August 16th 2014. Those interested in competing or volunteering can get more information at runningwiththebears.org.